Ulis, who averaged 17.3 points and 7.0 assists for the Wildcats during his sophomore season, beat out finalists Kris Dunn (Providence), Yogi Ferrell (Indiana), Monte Morris (Iowa State) and Kay Felder (Oakland) to win the award. He was in Los Angeles to receive the award, which was presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Well, last year we had so many veteran guys, so many pros on the team I didn’t have to do as much,” Ulis told Jay Williams after winning the award. “This year we had a lot of freshmen coming in and I feel like my role was to lead this team and try to do as best as I can.
“(I started playing better) in the middle of the year,” Ulis said. “I started player better, started shooting the ball a lot better and our started clicking. When we started winning games it started to be a lot more fun.”
The 5-foot-9 Ulis, who recently declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, is the first UK player in the 13-year history of the award to claim the honor. Previous winners of the Bob Cousy Award include: Delon Wright, Utah (2015); Shabazz Napier, Connecticut (2014); Trey Burke, Michigan (2013); Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (2012); Kemba Walker, Connecticut (2011); Greivis Vasquez, Maryland (2010); Ty Lawson, North Carolina (2009); DJ Augustin, Texas (2008); Acie Law, Texas A&M (2007); Dee Brown, Illinois (2006); Raymond Felton, North Carolina (2005); and Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph’s (2004).
The award is named after legendary point guard Bob Cousy, considered by many as the best playmaker ever. Cousy had an All-America career at The College of the Holy Cross, leading the Crusaders to three NCAA tournaments and the 1947 title. Cousy would go on to the NBA and lead the Boston Celtics to six championships alongside Hall of Famers Bill Russell and head coach Red Auerbach.